After the Florida Swing got underway last week at the Honda Classic, the stakes raise with this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
This event has annually attracted strong fields since it began in 1966 and moved to current host course, Bay Hill Club and Lodge, in 1979.
Almost all the world’s top stars will be in attendance as this is one of the PGA Tour’s newly designated events.
Bay Hill currently measures 7,419 yards for a par 72. Bermuda grass is in play as is the case throughout much of the Sunshine State.
The greens can run fast if conditions allow. Wind is often a factor at this event and seven water hazards eat up a lot of wayward shots.
The Dick Wilson design is a course that does not allow players to get too creative strategically. Rather, it’s one of those tracks that players will say is “all out in front of you.” That means it’s all about executing.
Just because you know what to do doesn’t make it an easy task.
Payne Stewart in 1987 was the only player to go 20-under when he won by three. Normally, the winning score is in the low to mid-teens with anything in double digits a great week.
Brutally difficult conditions led to Scottie Scheffler persevering to win at 5-under last year. Only 10 players broke par for 72 holes.
The weather forecast for the week appears to be warm, dry, and windy, so expect the course to play fiery once again.
Let’s dive into this week’s top picks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
There may be few players happier that the PGA Tour is onto the Florida swing than Sam Burns. He’s a Louisianan, but he tends to play his best golf in the southeastern United States.
Bermuda grass is where he tends to thrive.
While he’s been a menace at events like the Valspar Championship and Sanderson Farms Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational is one he’d like to pick off next.
In five starts, Burns has made a respectable four cuts, but last year’s T-9th (72-69-75-71) was his first top-10 at Bay Hill. He was just four off the winning pace on a crowded, talented leaderboard.
Other results in Orlando include T-49th in 2018, T-54th in 2019, T-36th in 2020, and a missed cut in 2021.
Speaking of top-10s, the LSU alum has a pair of them already in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season at the CJ Cup (T-7th) and WM Phoenix Open (T-6th). Burns also finished T-11th at The American Express.
The 28-year-old seeks his first win since the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge, his third win in the 2021-22 season. That helped him make it onto the American Presidents Cup team where Burns played well despite a middling record.
He should be well rested after taking last week off following a missed cut at the Genesis Invitational.
Burns ranks 16th in strokes gained per round putting (.723) and is 16th in driving distance (312.0).
He’s also 18th in scrambling (67.86%) and seventh in successfully going for the green (64.81%).